By Jess Lynk
Our final day in D.C. started early than most. We awoke to darkness as we prepared for the finale of our trip: the inauguration of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
This experience will be one I always remember. From standing for at least 10 hours to watching a new person become president, I saw a lot on Friday. Here is what happened, through my eyes.
4:30 a.m.: Alarm goes off. After walking almost 90 miles before inauguration day, this alarm was not welcomed kindly.
5:00 a.m.: Met outside the Residential & Academic Facility (RAF) with the rest of our group. All 27 of us had to split up into orange and blue ticket sections. Ten of us went to blue and 16 of us went to orange. Blue tickets walked a mile to get to the gate and orange tickets took the Metro and then walked a bit. I was stuck with the walkers.
5:40 a.m.: We arrived at the blue gate. On our way to this gate, buses and armored cars blocked the streets. People (myself included) could see the presence of police. We showed our blue tickets and headed to wait.
6:20 a.m.: We got through the gate and headed towards security. We waited in line for security, which involved going through a metal detector. Security prohibited a lot of items, including large umbrellas. Someone in our group even had her water bottle taken.
7:00 a.m.: We arrived to see a lit up capital. The sun was just on the cusp of rising. When it did rise, it was beautiful.
For the next few hours, we stood in the cold and rain. We made the best of it by laughing at our ponchos and how much our feet hurt.
9:30 a.m.: The National Cathedral Choir began singing and then the U.S. Marine band. It was nice to hear some music while we stood for a few more hours. A few audience members wondered why we need to listen to a choir and yelled,”We want Three Doors Down.”
A bit before 11:30 a.m., the procession began with members of the house, senate and governors. Former presidents also came out. The crowd booed at Bernie Sanders and chanted “Lock her up” and booed when former First Lady Hillary Clinton came out.
11:30 a.m.: The ceremony began, announcing the children first and the inaugural committee.
Booing also came when former President Barrack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden came up. Some people in our area also started singing, “Na, na, na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye.”
Donald Trump was then annouced, which brought many cheers from the crowd.
Before the swearing in, a few people read bible verses, said prayers and gave speeches. Chuck Schumer gave a speech, in which the crowd in our section booed through the entire speech.
11:50 a.m.: Vice President Mike Pence was sworn in.
12:00 p.m.: President Donald Trump was sworn in. Right when Trump began his speech, protestors began chanting to our right. They chanted, “Illegitimate.” A few people left in handcuffs.
A cannon salute ended the ceremony, which freaked out a few of us in the group. It left us with a few laughs and tears, but more importantly, no one who ever goes on the trip will ever be scarred by the cannons again.
12:05 p.m.: Trump gave his inaugural address. People cheered and clapped in agreement throughout the entire address.
12:20 p.m.: Trump’s speech ended and the crowd started to leave. The inauguration continued with more readings from the bible and concluded with the national anthem. The crowd continued to thin out, as the ceremony ended.
12:30 p.m.: We were on our way out and headed to get lunch. After an hour, the ceremony ended.
12:45 p.m.: Obama departed in a helicopter overhead.
We headed to Union Station to grab something to eat. The station was packed with Trump hats and “Woman’s march” shirts. It was a weird clash.
By 2:30 p.m., we were on our way back to the RAF for a nap.
We witnessed history. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, we observed a day that defines our democracy. Peacefully, Obama transition out of his power and Trump became the 45th president.
Police sirens defined the city for the rest of the night, as protests continued. But the transition still occurred, just as our democracy was set up to do. It was pretty spectacular.